Multiply That By FOUR – Sweet Potato Curry with Brown Rice

Sometimes I feel like having four kids is like holding down FOUR full time jobs.  You know, like those start up companies where one person is juggling a million balls to fill four positions all rolled into one.  Believe me, having helped to launch not one, but two, Internet start-ups “back in the day”, I know of what I speak.  I used to put in 16 hour days in my previous life as a leader in a techie start-up . . . because in that culture, you did whatever it took to get the job done, whether it was technically your job or not.  After all, you had one shot, and one shot only, to get your baby of a business off the ground.

So yesterday, it just kind of hit me, that my current life isn’t that drastically different from my old one.  I put in very loooong days and do whatever it takes.  As I see it, I’ve got one shot, and one shot only, to be with these little people through every age and stage.  But multiply that one start up company by four and  – – –  well, I think you get the picture.

Just this week, there was so much going on that I really thought I was about to lose the plot.  One wants to raise money to fund a well in Africa.  So she was baking cakes, going door-to-door offering samples, and trying to get customers to pre-order her goods.  Of course she had to create an order form, a delivery calendar, and the list goes on and on.  Not to mention that now she has to fulfill the orders over the coming two weeks. Budding entrepreneur basically.  Another one is entering a youth expo and was busy painting and photographing her entries.  Budding artist, you might say.  Number three had CoffeeCanTheater which came home from preschool.  That involved telling stories, acting out the stories with puppets, and then writing the stories down.  Hmmmm, budding writer / comedian / thespian?  The last one  is just a sponge taking it all in.  Of course on top of that there’s the routine sports practices, school work, meetings, and playing.

And you know what?   This isn’t a question of overscheduling.  The majority of this stuff isn’t organized extra-curriculars that often can get such a bad rap.  This stuff is just about letting them identify their interests and passions and run with them.

What’s a mom to do?  It’s not like I can just pick a favorite “start-up” and tell the other three, “Tough luck, we’ve decided to pull your funding”.  Wouldn’t that be rich?!  Pick the kid with the most potential and get 100% behind her while letting the other ones just “go under”.  OK – end fantasy analogy world and resume real life thinking.

So it’s long days and late nights for me.  Not to mention that no matter what else is going on, they all have to be fed.  I often joke and say that if they would just stop eating and wearing clothing that I would end up with an abundance of free time.  They think that’s funny.  I’m. Not. Joking.  Anyway, amidst this past week’s flurry of activity and dinners, I served up a little Sweet Potato Curry with Brown Rice.  It was a clear crowd pleaser and quite simple to pull together.

I started by just cutting the sweet potatoes into wedges and steaming them over some boiling water until they were tender.


While the spuds were steaming, I sauteed up some mushrooms.


I also sauteed up some shallots and chopped up a small bunch of cilantro.


Then I brought some coconut milk and water to a simmer in a skillet.  To that I added some Thai red curry paste and cilantro.  The sweet potatoes got tossed in next, along with the sauteed mushrooms and a drained can of bamboo shoots.  Oh, I also tossed in some sauteed shallots to this mess of goodness.


I let that all just simmer a few so that the flavors could blend, and then spooned it over some brown rice, dished up some roasted bok choy on the side, and garnished with lime wedges.



Nothing particularly fancy, but definitely choc full of nutritious goodness for my  “four little budding businesses”. Because no matter how thin I may be spread at this point in my life, there’s really no other place that I’d rather be investing my heart and my time.

Here’s the complete recipe for Sweet Potato Curry with Brown Rice.

Feeling Lucky – Chocolate Stout Cake

November?!  Yes, November since I have given you any attention, little old food blog.  What a pitiful shame.  I wish I could chalk it up to having too many kids and not enough time.  Or maybe being too busy with real estate.  What if I had simply stopped cooking?  Now there’s a good joke.

The truth is that Thanksgiving happened and I said to myself, “The world is overrun with pumpkin pie and stuffing posts, and I am simply overrun, so I am going to opt out of my blogging life for a bit.”  Then Christmas happened, and, well . . . Christmas happened.  We all know what that entails, so no need to expound there.”  Any normal person would have been able to jump right back into the fray of things post haste, post Christmas, right?  Maybe not so much.  Or maybe I’m not as normal as I would like to delude myself into thinking I am.  Because the truth is that since January I have slipped deeper and deeper into a total state of inertia.  The kind of inertia that first pulls you down by your toes and you think, “Oh, I just need to take it easy and recharge for a day or two.”  Then it seeps up to your waist and you think, ” This is ridiculous and I really need to shake it off – – – and delete Candy Crush Saga from my phone.”  Finally, as it creeps up to your shoulders and you feel it reaching for your neck, you panic and start to think that maybe you will never snap out of it, that you are officially done being productive / creative / efficient / proficient, and any other “-ent” or “-ive” that you may use to describe your person.  “Blah” no longer describes your state of being.  “In a funk”  seems like just a cheap excuse.  Some people might label it “depressed”.  Personally, I prefer to call it empty.  I have just been battling emptiness for the past three months.

Believe me, it is not easy to type that.  It’s even scary, if you must know.  Does confessing emptiness indict my mental stability?  Does it undermine my love of my husband and family? Does it undermine my faith and gratefulness?  I choose to believe that it simply affirms my humanity, that it marks a not so glorious season, that it is through being stuck in my own crud that I can grow more compassionate toward others who are mucking their way through their crud.

So that is where I have been, dear blog.  And little by little, I have regained perspective.  Little by little, I have dug my way out of my little hole.  Little by little, I have told myself that by being reduced to less that I can become more.  And no, the cooking hasn’t stopped through this slump.  After all, cooking is therapy to me.  Keeping things real, seasonal and local, I have served my little brood more, potato, rutabaga, turnip, radish, and other root vegetable concoctions than I should probably admit.  Those aren’t real sexy in their culinary appeal though, and I wanted to re-emerge on the blog with a little more pizazz. Plus, if you are like me, then maybe you find solace to your sadness in chocolate.  Not to mention, that it’s St. Paddy’s tomorrow and any good recipe with Guiness is a sure winner this time of year.  So with no further explanation, apologies, excuses, or ramblings, I give you THE BEST chocolate cake recipe of all time – Three Layer Chocolate Stout Cake.

First let me make the disclaimer that this makes a HUGE cake.  I have found that cutting it in half (not the frosting, just the cake) still makes an ample three layer beauty.  I have also made the whole recipe and been able to make a three layer cake AND about a dozen cupcakes which I have frozen and kept on hand for “emergencies”.  And then there have been times when I have just gone for it, made the full recipe and had three large, luxurious layers of chocolate bliss.  Whatever route you choose, start by buttering three 8″ round cake pans, then lining with parchment, and then buttering the parchment.  Then heat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan, I then bring 2 cups of stout (I have only used Guiness) and 2 cups of butter to a simmer.  To that, I whisk in the dutch process cocoa powder and then let that cool.


In a separate large bowl, I whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In yet another bowl, I beat together eggs and sour cream with an electric mixer.


I then add the stout/butter mixture to the egg/sour cream mixture and beat just until it is combined.


The flour mixture gets added in next.  I beat it only briefly and then continue to fold in with a rubber spatula so as to not over mix.


All of this yumminess gets poured into my three prepared cake pans and baked for about 35 minutes.  When they are done, I cool them in the pans for about 10 minutes and then turn them out onto racks and cool completely.

For the frosting, I recommend buying the best chocolate your budget allows for.  Simply bring the whipping cream and chopped chocolate to a simmer in a saucepan, whisking constantly until it is melted.  Then transfer to the fridge and allow to cool.  Here is where you need to really keep an eye on the frosting and stir about every 10 minutes until it reaches frosting consistency.  I have botched this part and had it turn to “fudge” on me.  If that should happen to you, don’t panic.  Just put the pan back over very low heat and stir constantly until it melts back down and start the whole refrigeration and stirring process over again.  Once you have your frosting at the perfect consistency, frost between layers and over top and sides and . . .  voila!


So this St. Paddy’s maybe forgo the Irish Soda Bread and whip up this treat instead.  And if, like me, you are struggling with your own version of “emptiness”, I hope you remember that this is only a season and it too shall pass.  In the meantime, a little chocolate cake never hurt anyone!

Here’s the complete recipe for Three Layer Chocolate Stout Cake,

~ adapted from